Time to Read

5 minutes

Points of Interest

  1. Increase exercise intensity
  2. Add resistance to training
  3. Assess, don't guess
  4. Be strategic with your training time
  5. Don't waste short windows of time
  6. Time efficient training approaches


A busy schedule and a lack of free time doesn't have to mean that your training life suffers as a result - there are a number of things you can do to work around this and still progress with your fitness.

Where we try to protect our training time as much as possible, the reality is that we experience time pressures that can restrict our ability to train as much as we would like. Despite this, there are a number of approaches we can take to maintain and improve our fitness levels over time.

In this article we’re going to look at a few broad strokes approaches to time efficient training strategies which can be applied to different sports, so no matter what you train for, you can adapt the approaches.

Increase exercise intensity

The first one is obvious – work harder, not longer. With an increased intensity workout protocol you achieve the ‘overload’ principle of training. Work harder than your body is comfortable with and you’ll force adaption. This is basic but important principle – if you’re going to train for a shorter period of time, you have to work harder in the little time you do train.

The cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems adapt over a period of time to cope with the increased intensity of training, improving physical performance capabilities in a shorter period of time, relative to the intensity of the work done in training. The harder you work, the greater the improvements (within reason).

Add resistance to training

Taking a sprint protocol designed to improve both sprint speed and lower body strength and power but adding resistance to it can dramatically improve the effectiveness of the programme. In this study, male rugby players underwent resisted sprint programmes and within 6 weeks make a statistically significant speed improvement compared to their counterparts who did no extra weighted sprints.

The cross over benefit is improved lower limb strength and improved soft tissue conditioning which will reduce injury risks. It’s also an effective way to work around lower back issues but still improve leg strength and power in the absence of squats and deadlifts, which can stress the lower back.

Assess, don't guess

If you want to make the most of a short training window, you have to make sure your work isn’t wasted. The way to do that is to accurately track your training data - ideally using a heart rate monitor where you can see exactly what your cardiovascular output is at any given point.

You can also set training targets on heart rate monitors, so you ensure you are working hard enough. This is a far better approach than using a self-assessed approach such as the Rate of Perceived Exertion scale, which effectively allows you to decide if you’re working hard enough without any evidence beyond how you feel, which is often a limiting factor on training output.

Be strategic with your training time

When overall training time is compromised, pick wisely where you need to devote your attention. In this landmark study, researchers split a group of sprint distance triathletes into a control group and an experimental group. The control group trained as normal, whereas the experimental group underwent a HIIT running programme, which was lower volume but higher intensity.

The experimental group significantly improved their athletic performance, despite the change in running training. This leads us to conclude that not all aspects of training need to be high volume and that a strategic approach could free up time to work on aspects that need more help.

Don't waste short windows of time

As we learned in the previous point, not all aspects of training require the same amount of time. Rather than ignore small windows of training time, disregarding them as too short, instead focus on drills that don’t need as much time.

Research suggests that stretching and foam rolling (self myofascial release) techniques will improve range of motion and physical abilities, yet they don’t take long to do. The additional benefit of these strategies is that they can provide a significant role in the prevention of injuries in the long term.

Time efficient training approaches

In an ideal world we’d all have as much time as we need to train, but this article shows that all is not lost if you do need to adapt your training protocol to a limited time frame. There is still a lot of beneficial work you can do in the condensed windows of time you may be presented with.

Of course endurance work still needs a large investment of time and effort, but there are other ways you can benefit your overall fitness and conditioning that don’t require hours of training time. Making sure these are performed in the shortest available time leaves you with more free time to work on the aspects of your performance that you simply can’t edit down.

As always, the KYMIRA range of performance clothing is the ideal partner for all of your training needs. Shop our complete range here.

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September 17, 2019 — Stephen Hoyles for KYMIRA Sport

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